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According to reports, Life at Sea’s three-year voyage has left multiple guests stranded as the company abruptly cancelled the trip only a few weeks before it was set to begin.
CNN reported that the highly anticipated event was canceled only 14 days before the scheduled departure due to limited availability of ships. The boat was originally planned to leave from Istanbul, Turkey on November 1st, but the trip was repeatedly delayed. The next official date was set for November 11th, with a change in departure location to Amsterdam. However, the company once again pushed back the date to November 30th.
Guests who purchased tickets, ranging from $29,999 per month to $109,000 per year depending on the size of their room, had intentions to travel to all seven continents, 135 countries, and 375 ports on the ship.
On November 17th, after weeks of silence from the company, an ABC report revealed that guests who had sold their homes, shipped their belongings, and traveled to Turkey were informed of the cancellation of their voyage. Kendra Holmes, the former CEO of Life at Sea, released a 15-minute video explaining the unfortunate circumstances. According to reports, Holmes had resigned from her position a few days prior.
Several travelers who had booked one of the 111 rooms were not expecting the sudden cancellation and are now left without a place to go back to. The company has assured to reimburse all passengers who were ready to embark on the ship, but the refunds will be given in monthly payments, with the final amount expected by late February. Furthermore, Life at Sea has also agreed to cover the expenses for transportation and lodging until December 1st for any guest who has already arrived in Istanbul.
In an interview with CNN, an unidentified passenger stated that the current situation is causing many people to have nowhere to go. Some individuals require their refund in order to make future plans, which is not a favorable situation at the moment.
According to Insider, Kimberly Arizzi, a guest, sold her apartment, clothes, and furniture in order to fund a luxurious trip to kick off her retirement.
Miray International, the parent company of Life at Sea, began accepting payments and reservations for the inaugural ocean voyage on March 1. However, after further assessment, Miray determined that the MV Gemini Ship was not adequately sized for the trip.
According to CNN, the AIDAaura was supposed to be the next ship used for the excursion, which Life at Sea planned to purchase and rename the MV Lara. However, Life at Sea informed guests that the purchase of the MV Lara was taking longer than anticipated. It has been reported that Celestyal Cruises bought the ship on November 16th.
Two days after informing passengers about the cancellation, on November 19th, Vedat Ugurlu, the owner of Miray International, stated that the company was unable to buy the ship. Additionally, Ugurlu clarified that Miray had presented the proposal to investors and had received official approval from some of them to purchase the vessel. However, after making a down payment, the investors withdrew their support due to ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.
During an interview with CNN, a potential global explorer expressed feeling “unhappy, frustrated, and directionless.”
“I had carefully planned out the next three years of my life, with the intention of living an exceptional existence. However, now, all those plans have been shattered,” they expressed. “It’s difficult for me to move forward. I used to feel confident and courageous, but now I find it hard to trust anyone or anything. I understand that things will eventually fall into place and life will continue, but I am unsure of which path to take.”
After the event was called off, numerous individuals shared their thoughts and showed compassion for those who were left without transportation or feeling let down by the unsuccessful journey.
The Independent has reached out to Miray International and Life at Sea for a statement.